The death of Samuel (1 Sam 28:3-28:3)

Samuel had died. All Israel had mourned for him and buried him in Ramah, his own city.

Here is another mention of the death of Samuel as in chapter 25. Once again it is without much fanfare.

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The Philistines prepare for a war against Israel (1 Sam 28:1-28:2)

“In those days the Philistines gathered their forces for war, to fight against Israel. Achish said to David. ‘You know, of course, that you and your men are to go out with me in the army.’ David said to Achish. ‘Very well, you shall know what your servant can do.’ Achish said to David. ‘Very well, I will make you my bodyguard for life.’”

The Philistines prepared for a war against Israel. Achish told David that he and his men would fight with him against Israel. David said yes. Then King Achish made David his bodyguard for life. What will David do? This was a problem in the Second World War for Americans of German and Italian descent to fight against their ancestral homes, where there might still be some relatives.

David serves the Philistine King Achish (1 Sam 27:8-27:12)

“Now David and his men went up, and made raids on the Geshurites, the Girzites, and the Amalekites. These were the landed settlements from Telam on the way to Shur and on the way to the land of Egypt. David struck the land. He left neither man nor woman alive, but took away the sheep, the oxen, the donkeys, the camels, and the clothing. He came back to Achish. When Achish asked him, ‘against who have you made a raid today?’ David would say, ‘against the Negeb of Judah,’ or ‘against the Negeb of the Jerahmeelites,’ or, ‘against the Negeb of the Kenites.’ David left neither man nor woman alive to be brought back to Gath, thinking, ‘they might tell about us, and say, ‘David has done so and so.’ Such was his practice all the time he lived in the country of the Philistines.’ Achish trusted David, thinking, ‘he has made himself utterly abhorrent to his people Israel. Therefore he shall always be my servant.’”

From there, David and his men made raids around that area. The Geshurites were a group that lived on the southeast side of Israel. This is the only time that the Girzites and Telam appear in biblical literature so that it is difficult to pinpoint who they might be. The Amalekites were the nomadic people who lived between the Dead Sea and the Red Sea. They were the first to attack the Israelites after they left Egypt. Most of these people were southerners on the way to Egypt like Shur, where Hagar went when she ran away from Sarah in Genesis, chapter 16. David destroyed all the humans but brought the livestock back to Achish in Gath. When Achish asked where David had plundered, he responded in the Negeb, or low lands, of Judah, the Jerahmeelites, who lived in southern Judah, or the Kenites. He lied to the king saying that he had been attacking the southern part of Judah. What kind of treaty or understanding did David and Achish have? Was he loyal to Achish or to Israel? David never let anyone live so that they could not say who attacked them or who they were. David had a distrust of Achish, but Achish thought that David was so obnoxious to the Israelites that he would never leave him.

David receives the town of Ziklag from King Achish (1 Sam 27:5-27:7)

“Then David said to Achish. ‘If I have found favor in your sight, let a place be given me in one of the country towns, so that I may live there. Why should your servant live in the royal city with you?’ So that day Achish gave him Ziklag. Therefore Ziklag has belonged to the kings of Judah to this day. The length of the time that David lived in the country of the Philistines was one year and four months.”

David asked for a town outside of Gath for his men. Each major town must have had surrounding suburban towns. He ended up at Ziklag, which was a city of Judah when the writing of this work took place.  They stayed there about 1 year and 4 months.

David seeks refuge at Gath (1 Sam 27:1-27:4)

“David said in his heart. ‘I shall now perish one day by the hand of Saul. There is nothing better for me than to escape to the land of the Philistines. Then Saul will despair of seeking me any longer within the borders of Israel. I shall escape out of his hand.’ So David set out and went over, he and the six hundred men who were with him, to Achish son of Maoch, king of Gath. David stayed with Achish at Gath, he and his troops, every man with his household, and David with his two wives, Ahinoam of Jezreel and Abigail of Carmel, Nabal’s widow. When was told Saul that David had fled to Gath, he no longer sought for him.”

David thought that he would die at the hand of Saul. This seems odd since he has just reconciled with Saul. However, David was suspicious of Saul. He went to the Philistines. This also sounds strange since David had defeated and killed so many Philistines from the time of Goliath on. Goliath was in fact from this town as indicated in chapter 17 of this book. 600 men and their households went with David to the Philistine town of Gath that was in the Manasseh territory per Joshua, chapter 21. However, quite often it is referred to as in Judah. Why would the king of the town that Goliath was from accept his killer David? This is the only mention of Maoch, but Achish is more important. This is the 2nd time that David was here. The last time, he pretended to be crazy and got away in chapter 21. This time he is probably accepted because he has 600 fighting men. Most people knew that he was in a fight with the King of Israel, Saul. Achish may have thought that it would be better to have David on his side in the fight against Saul. Notice that Saul gave up seeking David when he heard that David had fled to Gath. The story of David is full of contradictions. He has reconciled twice with Saul, yet he go over to the Philistines, his bitter enemy that he has been fighting.

Saul and David reconcile with each other again (1 Sam 26:17-26:25)

“Then David said to Ahimelech the Hittite and to Joab’s brother Abishai son of Zeruiah. ‘Who will go down with me into the camp to Saul?’ Abishai said. ‘I will go down with you.’ So David and Abishai went to the army by night. There Saul lay sleeping within the encampment, with his spear stuck in the ground at his head. Abner and the army lay around him.”

This Ahimelech is not the Ahimelech of Nob in chapter 21, who helps David, before Saul kills him. It seems that the remaining Hittites had joined David rather than Saul. Joab is the nephew of David. Abishai is the other nephew since they are the sons of David’s sister Zeruiah. David and Abishai went down to the camp of Saul and his warriors.

“Abishai said to David. ‘God has given your enemy into your hand today. Now therefore let me pin him to the ground with one stroke of the spear. I will not strike him twice.’ But David said to Abishai. ‘Do not destroy him. For who can put raise his hand against Yahweh’s anointed, and be guiltless?’ David said. ‘As Yahweh lives, Yahweh will strike him down. Or his day will come to die. Or he will go down into battle and perish. May Yahweh forbid that I should raise my hand against Yahweh’s anointed one. But take now the spear that is at his head with the water jar. Let us go!’ So David took the spear that was at Saul’s head and the water jar. Then they went away. No man saw it, or knew it, nor did any awake. They were all asleep, because a deep sleep from Yahweh had fallen upon them.”

Abishai and David found Saul. Abishai wanted to put Saul to death. However, David said no. David said that they cannot kill Yahweh’s anointed one, the king. Let Saul die another day, perhaps on the battle field. They took his spear and water jug and went away. Everyone in the camp was in a deep sleep that Yahweh had put upon them. David is shown as generous here as well as respect for the anointed king, which maybe him someday. This certainly was weak enforcements. Certainly the night watcher should have been fired.

“Then David went over to the other side. He stood on the top of a hill far away, with a great distance between them. David called to the army and to Abner son of Ner. ‘Abner! Will you not answer?’ Then Abner replied. ‘Who are you that calls to the king?’ David said to Abner. ‘Are you not a man? Who is like you in Israel? Why then have you not kept watch over your lord the king? For one of the people came in to destroy your lord the king. This thing that you have done is not good. As Yahweh lives, you deserve to die, because you have not kept watch over your lord, Yahweh’s anointed. See now where is the king’s spear, or the jar of water that was at his head?’”

David then taunted Abner from a distance. David went to a hill opposite of where Saul was. He shouted back at Abner, asking him why he had not kept better watch over King Saul. This idea of shouting across mountains was a common practice before the invention of electronic communication. David said that Saul’s spear and water, which were at his bed, were now gone.

David finds Saul (1 Sam 26:6-26:16)

“Then David said to Ahimelech the Hittite and to Joab’s brother Abishai son of Zeruiah. ‘Who will go down with me into the camp to Saul?’ Abishai said. ‘I will go down with you.’ So David and Abishai went to the army by night. There Saul lay sleeping within the encampment, with his spear stuck in the ground at his head. Abner and the army lay around him.”

This Ahimelech is not the Ahimelech of Nob in chapter 21, who helps David, before Saul kills him. It seems that the remaining Hittites had joined David rather than Saul. Joab is the nephew of David. Abishai is the other nephew since they are the sons of David’s sister Zeruiah. David and Abishai went down to the camp of Saul and his warriors.

“Abishai said to David. ‘God has given your enemy into your hand today. Now therefore let me pin him to the ground with one stroke of the spear. I will not strike him twice.’ But David said to Abishai. ‘Do not destroy him. For who can put raise his hand against Yahweh’s anointed, and be guiltless?’ David said. ‘As Yahweh lives, Yahweh will strike him down. Or his day will come to die. Or he will go down into battle and perish. May Yahweh forbid that I should raise my hand against Yahweh’s anointed one. But take now the spear that is at his head with the water jar. Let us go!’ So David took the spear that was at Saul’s head and the water jar. Then they went away. No man saw it, or knew it, nor did any awake. They were all asleep, because a deep sleep from Yahweh had fallen upon them.”

Abishai and David found Saul. Abishai wanted to put Saul to death. However, David said no. David said that they cannot kill Yahweh’s anointed one, the king. Let Saul die another day, perhaps on the battle field. They took his spear and water jug and went away. Everyone in the camp was in a deep sleep that Yahweh had put upon them. David is shown as generous here as well as respect for the anointed king, which maybe him someday. This certainly was weak enforcements. Certainly the night watcher should have been fired.

“Then David went over to the other side. He stood on the top of a hill far away, with a great distance between them. David called to the army and to Abner son of Ner. ‘Abner! Will you not answer?’ Then Abner replied. ‘Who are you that calls to the king?’ David said to Abner. ‘Are you not a man? Who is like you in Israel? Why then have you not kept watch over your lord the king? For one of the people came in to destroy your lord the king. This thing that you have done is not good. As Yahweh lives, you deserve to die, because you have not kept watch over your lord, Yahweh’s anointed. See now where is the king’s spear, or the jar of water that was at his head?’”

David then taunted Abner from a distance. David went to a hill opposite of where Saul was. He shouted back at Abner, asking him why he had not kept better watch over King Saul. This idea of shouting across mountains was a common practice before the invention of electronic communication. David said that Saul’s spear and water, which were at his bed, were now gone.